August 6, 2008

Gator’s Capture Illustrates Danger


Just hearing someone scream the word S-S-S-SNAKE usually gets everyone's rapt attention. So if the sight of any snake gives most folks the heebie-jeebies, what would stumbling across an alligator do?

Don't say alligators don't live around here because someone may be liberating a couple at this moment. The exotic pet trade is out of control and many owners find themselves living with something that wasn't designed to be a lovable lap animal. Harboring a critter that bites the hand that feeds it prompts many to chuck them in roadside ditches. Most exotics survive the summer and some make it through the fall, though there's only a tiny chance some may live through winter, and acclimate.

There's been a recent buzz about canoeists finding a three foot 'gator in White River near Anderson, In.

The didn't try to capture it, instead doing the right thing by calling conservation officers who removed the alien to a holding pen. It isn't stashed at a zoo and it won't be flown to Florida and it definitely won't be released back into the White River. Usually no zoo will take in such a critter because of the possibility of parasites and communicable reptilian diseases. That leaves few options.

Aside from ice and snow stopping gators from migrating north, why couldn't they live in our Tri-State cypress swamps? There are accounts from our pioneer ancestors of 'gators as far north as the Kentucky-Tennessee border. These accounts fail to mention why they vanished. While 'gators are native to parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Florida, Mississippi, Georgia and South Carolina, they have on occasion been authenticated as naturally roaming into bordering states.

The moral of this story is exotic animals don't make good pets and liberating them into your state is a criminal act. Alien critters upset the ecology and could acclimate and invade your neighborhood like reticulated pythons, monitor lizards, cane toads, iguanas and more than 135 documented species have done to Florida. If you see any bird, reptile, animal, fish, amphibian or plant that is suspect, quickly call local authorities to stop it from becoming an unwanted resident.

n Twin Bridges Chapter of Waterfowl USA has teamed up with Gander Mountain Sporting Goods and Bluegrass Fish & Wildlife Area for a Youth Dove Hunt at Bluegrass on Sept. 1. The first 75 kids (17 and under) accompanied by parents/guardians will be allowed to hunt. Sign-ups are only at Gander Mountain's service desk. There are no phone-in registrations and youths and parents must sign up together. Registration starts today and continues through Aug. 23 or until the 75 youth quota is reached.

Adults must stay with the youngsters the entire time of the event. Youth hunters provide their own shotgun, shot shells, dove buckets/seats. The event start at 11 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m. Participants will get free lunch and refreshments plus a WUSA t- shirt. There will be raffle items available at the hunt to help fund the project. For details call Terry Rager at 812-985-0939 or Gander Mountain at 812-473-9117.

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